Modeling Christian Family
We spent several weeks in John’s first letter to the church. The next two weeks we will only spend a week each in these two small follow up letters, the 2nd and 3rd epistles of John.
This 2nd letter was written continuing to counter the false teacher of the Gnostics at the end of the 1st Century.
If you remember they taught that they had a special knowledge that set them apart
They also taught that the body or physical world was fully evil and the spirit was fully good. So then, there were two schools of thought. One was that since the flesh was evil and the Spirit good, you must deny yourselves all things fleshly because it was evil. The other thought was that one didn’t affect the other so you could do whatever you wanted. Of course, both of those extremes are false.
They also erred in their teachings on Jesus in his nature, person, and work.
They tried to make a distinction between Jesus the man and Christ the anointed of God. Since they believed the material was wicked, they believed that the Christ could not have been fully human. So, they taught that Jesus the man was separate from the Christ. They taught that The Christ, in spirit form, descended and came on Jesus the man, at his Baptism. Then because the Christ, in their teaching, was Spirit … they taught that he could not die, so he left Jesus the man BEFORE his death, and then of course he couldn’t have been resurrected in the flesh in their way of teaching.
Those men, called Gnostics, like Cerinthius taught things about Jesus Christ that were in direct contradiction to the teachings of the four gospels, and the prophesies of the Old Testament and the Apostles teachings in the New Testament.
As we read this letter in its entirety, I want you to listen for instructions that can help us create homes and families, a well as churches that can withstand the modern Gnostics and the continued attack on the truth.
Notice, as we read, John’s focus on The Truth.
READ 2 John
Now this letter is addressed to “the chosen lady and her children …” and John closes the letter “the children of your chosen sister send their greetings”
Of course, John could be speaking about two ladies and their children … but it seems much more likely that John is using poetic terminology. As the church is The Bride of Christ, John is writing one church and sends greetings from another church.
While that is true, the foundation of the church and community is the home and family. If we want strong churches, communities, and countries, then we need strong families. You can be sure that Satan knows this truth and from the beginning he has attacked the home. He seeks to confuse and deceive, to challenge the truth of God’s Word
You know who Charles Lindbergh was of course. A famous aviator, flew the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic to Paris … Listen to what he says about truth
6947 Lindbergh On Truth
In my youth, science was more important to me than either man or God. I worshipped science. Its advance had surpassed man’s wildest dreams. It took many years for me to discover that science, with all its brilliance, lights only a middle chapter of creation.
I saw the aircraft I love destroying the civilization I expected it to save. Now I understand that spiritual truth is more essential to a nation than the mortar in its cities’ walls. For when the actions of a people are undergirded by spiritual truths, there is safety. When spiritual truths are rejected, it is only a matter of time before civilization will collapse.
We must understand spiritual truths and apply them to our modern life. We must draw strength from the almost forgotten virtues of simplicity, humility, contemplation and prayer. It requires a dedication beyond science, beyond self, but the rewards are great and it is our only hope.
So … let me use these words today to encourage our families
If we want our homes to be strong, then we have a responsibility for our children and grandchildren, in regards to the Truth …
So follow with me …
1. Teach Them The Truth
We cannot expect anything from them if they do not know the truth.
More than ever before, truth has been watered down by our society
Truth has been turned into something that is relative. Many would defend the right of everyone to believe what they want. They would say “truth is what you make it to be.”
So … if I am standing on the roof and decide that I think I can fly … will you let me make that truth for myself?
If I decide that my truth is that I can breathe water or drink antifreeze, or stop a bullet with my bare hands …are you going to let me make my own truth?
So, we need to know what truth IS and we need to Teach our children the Truth.
What is Truth? The word is aletheia = objectively, what is truth in any matter under consideration, truth, reality, in fact, certainty
In an ever-changing world with the threat of war, recession, depression, with so much uncertainty and illusion … our children need a certainty, a truth, a reality, a fact on which to build their lives.
The dreams of riches, success, temporal happiness are but smoke and mirrors, vapors, and the morning dew that fades in the heat of the day … Since our lives are like withering grass and fading flowers, we need a real reality. We need to know who we are and what we can be in Christ Jesus
Since we were made to live forever, but only a handful of decades will be in THIS life
Our children need to know what is real and what is eternal because they will live forever. The question is where and with whom.
The foundation that is laid in this life will be lived in for eternity.
When he was on trial before Pilate … Jesus said … “I am King, in fact for this reason, I was born. And for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth, listens to me” John 18:37
Then in the next verse, Pilate says “what is truth?”
This is the right question. It is the question of the world. But the answer was right in front of him.
Jesus had already proclaimed in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life …”
Truth is not a concept, truth is not information, truth is a PERSON – Truth is Jesus, Jesus is Truth
We must teach our children Jesus. He must be the basis for every understanding and teaching. Jesus becomes the measuring stick for everything. For medicine, anthropology, archeology, astronomy, science, economy, economics, government, sociology, even marriage and parenting …
You name the topic, Jesus explains and completes it.
Jesus is the foundational truth upon which every other truth presented is either true or false
Jesus is what we teach
1 Corinthians 2:13-16 “this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
If we do not teach them Jesus they cannot understand anything.
And I will say one more thing, Parents and Caregivers, it is your responsibility FIRST to teach the truth
No matter where God leads you to educate your children, public, private, or home school … it is your responsibility to see to it that they know the truth and HIS name is Jesus …
But simply knowing the truth, even objectively and in the person of Jesus is not enough. It must also be experienced personally in life and love.
So we must teach them as we
2. Walk With Them in Truth vv4,6
John says he has great joy to know that the children “walk in the truth”
Then he takes it further …
When our boys were little, we taught them that Jesus loved them … and we taught them that we love Jesus in return. We sang “Jesus loves me” and “I love you Lord” … the most basic prayer we taught them was to say “we love you Jesus”
But as they grow and begin to be able to understand truth … John defines Love …
V6 “This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands”
We can’t just love with words but with our lives and our obedience
Yes … we ARE saved by Grace. We are NOT controlled by the laws … but those who live in grace NEVER do LESS than the law requires … it is always ABOVE … MORE … that is LOVE
Loving my wife is not just simply saying “I love you” and not doing anything bad to her. Loving her is doing loving things toward her
So, John says we must obey his commands … that means our children need to KNOW his commands so they can love with with their obedience
David said in Psalm 119 “your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you”
John says we must WALK – peripateo – walk about – make your way, use every opportunity
This word is in the present, active, subjunctive tense… which means something that is happening NOW intentionally
Loving God through obedience by walking in the truth doesn’t happen naturally or by accident it happens on purpose by a purposed decision and determined action of a grateful heart
You know what, OUR children will most likely make that decision as WE walk WITH them not just instruct them we must show them, enable them, equip them, inspire, and encourage them
This expression of love must be definite as we are told to walk IN or According to his commands … there is a pattern that has been laid out by God. it is HIS command, and HIS truth
Kenneth Wuerst - translates this verse “and this is the aforementioned love that we should order our behavior dominated by his commandments. This is the commandment, just as you heard from the beginning that in its sphere we should be ordering our behavior”
The great hope for our church, community, and country is as we walk in the truth through loving obedience and take our children by the hand and walk them along with us in the truth.
And as we do … we take them further down the road and so we must
3. Train them to Continue In the Truth
You have probably heard some say “the proof is in the pudding”.
Well, this comes from a 600 year old phrase which is actually being misstated …
The correct phrase is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”
The point being it may look good or someone may say it has good stuff in it, but the proof is in the eating
That is what John is saying in verse 9 when he says anyone who does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God … whoever continues in the teaching has both Father and Son.
As we raise our children we must equip them with the tools to continue when they have gone out from us.
One of the saddest facts in our world today is the number of young adults who leave the church.
We must equip them with the truth as well as the ability to continue in the truth.
John reminds them in verse 7 that the world is full of “deceivers”
The word is planos = wandering, misleading, imposter, corrupter, deceiver”
John 8:44 says the devil “was a murderer from the beginning not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies”
The greatest joy now for us, as parents, is to see our children going out from us but continuing in the truth.
If we want our children to continue in the truth, then we need to reject falsehood and keep deceivers out of our home
We have to recognize deceivers and not allow them in your home. This is true for the church certainly as well but it starts in the home
Are there deceivers coming from that box or flat screen, laptop, game console, in your house?
Look at John’s instructions in vv10-11 “if anyone come to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome him” then he says if we DO … we just become partners in the work of the deceiver …
What is “this teaching”? John refers to v7 … those who “do not acknowledge Jesus coming in the flesh”
Who do you allow in your house? Do you allow false teachers to have the minds of your household? No? What about electronically? Digitally? Media? Audio? Video?
Are we teaching our children by example not to be deceived?
Remember that Moses instructed the children of Israel to talk about the Lord when you wake, when you lay down, when you walk down the street … the point being that when deception presents itself we reject it and we do so verbally so our children will know how to recognize falsehood and reject it …
What is being taught about the person of Jesus? Is He God in the flesh? Did he Die for us? Was he resurrected, ascended, is he coming again?
The hope for our nation, the hope for our church is in your hands.
You must know the truth, teach the truth, walk with them in the truth, train them to continue in it
The bedrock truth is
Jesus, Eternally God and creator of all things
Jesus, born miraculously of the Virgin in Bethlehem
Jesus, fully God, yet fully man
Jesus, without sin and lived sinless
Jesus, miraculous living
Jesus, surrendered in the flesh, died on the cross
Jesus, buried in borrowed tomb then resurrected by the Spirit on the 3rd Day, Proving his Victory over Sin and death and the grave
Jesus lived 40 days on this earth after his resurrection was seen by more than 500 witnesses. He then ascended before those witnesses to the right hand of the Father
Jesus, our only and perfect mediator between us and God
Jesus, the only way to salvation and into God’s glory
In him is the Only truth on which to base our lives
Jesus, in him alone is full life right now and eternal life when this life is over
Walk with him
Continue in him
That is the Hope for every life, every home
Isaac Watts (1674-1748) –
The great Hymn writer and Theologian … he wrote such great hymns as “O God Our Help in Ages Past”, “Nothing But the Blood”, “We’re Marching To Zion”, “Jesus Shall Reign”, “Joy to the World!”, and “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”
When he was just seven years old … he made up an acrostic from his Name
I – I am vile, a polluted lump of earth
S – So I’ve continued, ever since my birth
A – Although Jehovah, grace doth daily give me
A – As sure this monster, Satan, will deceive me
C – Come therefore, Lord, from Satan’s claws relieve me
W – Wash me in thy blood, O Christ
A – And grace divine impart
T – Then search and try the corners of my heart
T – That I in all things may be fit to do
S – Service to thee, and thy praise too.
Wow … Seven … but what was the secret? Can I offer something
Truth Takes Its Toll
A few days after the birth of Isaac Watts, his father, a clothier, began a jail sentence in Southampton because he believed he had the right to worship in the fellowship led by the Reverend Nathaniel Robinson rather than in the established Church of England. The elder Mr. Watts’s stand for truth did not disgrace or divide his family. Quite the opposite! Every day Mrs. Watts took tiny Isaac to the prison, and, seated on a horse block outside, nursed him in sight of his incarcerated father. When Isaac was nine months old, his father began another six month’s imprisonment for the same cause—religious freedom!
Do you think it was this inbred, taught, walking in love of truth, love of freedom, love of family, love of Christ, that enabled Watts to demonstrate such demanding integrity? Was young Isaac absorbing sermons of truth to be expressed later in his magnificent hymns?
Were it not for parents like those … perhaps we would not sing
“Alas and Did My Savior Bleed, and did my Sovereign Die
Would he devote that sacred head, for such a worm as I
At the Cross, at the cross
Where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there, by faith, I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day”
-- Isaac Watts